It’s been teased for a number of years now, but could it finally have actually become fact? At least through the first quarter of the 2020 season, the AFC North is the best division in football. Or at least the AFC North is the division with the highest collective winning percentage.
With three teams above .500—in fact, three teams with a winning percentage of .750 or better, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ division is shaping up to be arguably the most competitive in the NFL, and the reality is that this is probably a table that is being set for the next several years, what with the Steelers’ three rivals all having young franchise quarterbacks.
Pittsburgh on its own, of course, is 3-0 on the season, having a week four bye due to a Covid-19 outbreak in their scheduled opponent’s organization. Both the Baltimore Ravens and the Cleveland Browns are 3-1 on the season, with Cleveland’s one victory coming against Baltimore. The Cincinnati Bengals are now 1-2-1 on the year.
And the AFC North is the only division in the league with fewer than five losses. While the AFC East has the 4-0 Bills, it also has the 0-4 Jets, and the 1-3 Dolphins. In the South, you have winless Houston and the 1-3 Jaguars. The West has two 1-3 teams in Denver and the Los Angeles Chargers. All three of the other AFC divisions have a combined eight or more losses.
Flip over to the NFC and there is a bit more promise—outside of the East, with 12 total losses and a tie. The North has two three-loss teams in Detroit in Minnesota, while in the South, only the Buccaneers are above .500.
The next-best division in football right now is, perhaps to little surprise, the NFC West, featuring the 4-0 Seattle Seahawks as headliners, trailed by the 3-1 Rams. Both Arizona and San Francisco are also 2-2, with the 49ers still awaiting the return of Jimmy Garoppolo, though they’ve taken some hard defensive losses.
Still, their collective record is an impressive 11-5, a winning percentage of .688. That is only marginally worse than the AFC North’s collective 10-4-1 record, which has played one game fewer thanks to the Steelers’ game against the Titans being postponed. That record translates to a winning percentage of .700.
Unsurprisingly, if the season were to end today, the AFC North would send three teams to the postseason, with the Ravens and Browns as wildcards (Cleveland as the seventh seed). The same would not be said of the NFC West, with only the Rams making it in as a wildcard, followed by the Bears and the Saints as the sixth and seventh seeds. Arizona is currently seeded ninth and San Francisco 10th. Incidentally, Cincinnati is also seeded 10th in the AFC.